New York STATE: Agencies doing job of lawmakers

Earlier this spring, state lawmakers had an opportunity to pass limits on THC in food and drinks containing hemp.

A.6418/S.4910 was introduced by Assemblyman Charles Fall, D-Brooklyn and assistant majority leader, and Sen. Luis Sepulveda, D-Bronx. The bill didn’t progress out of committee in either chamber. While it’s not known if that failure was simply circumstance due to the late state budget and a short session for the part-time legislature or simply a statement that legislative leadership didn’t think the issue was a big enough problem for the legislature to act in 2023, the legislature’s inaction should have spoken volumes to state administrative bureaucrats.

It didn’t. The legislature’s inaction was instead interpreted by the state Office of Cannabis Management as an invitation to action. In late July, the Office of Cannabis Management issued emergency orders in late July limiting the amount of THC allowed in products containing potentially intoxicating hemp-derived cannabinoids and imposing a new minimum ratio of THC to CBD. Products are also limited to no more than 10 milligrams of THC per package and 1 milligram per serving. Retailers are also forbidden from selling any product with more than 0.5 milligrams of THC to anyone younger than 21. Now, a group of business owners who sell hemp-infused products are suing the state, arguing in part that there was no sign of emergency given the products had been legal for two years under federal law. The lack of legislative action would add to the idea that there was no emergency situation since lawmakers had another nearly two months to act on the Fall/Sepulveda legislation.

Sound familiar?

It should, because it’s the same situation that led state Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, and two other state legislators to sue the state to stop isolation and quarantine rules that the state Legislature had pulled from consideration only to see similar regulations passed by an administrative rule-making process. Borrello and his fellow lawmakers argue the state Health Department usurped the lawmaking authority of state legislators, who had chosen by their inaction on a similar bill not to change the state’s isolation and quarantine rules.

For all the hot air coming from Albany during the legislature’s six-month session every year it seems the hard work is being done by bureaucrats who haven’t ever had their name on an election ballot. And that makes us wonder why we have legislators at all.


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